A-Z Music Production Series: Scratch Track and Arrangement
This is episode two of the free A-Z Music Production series, and we’re featuring my buddy Arthur G’s song, “Disguised Grace.” We’re going to be turning around a full radio version of this song, and you can go download the files every step of the way as we record the scratch track, the drums, the bass, the keys, everything.
Go to davidglennrecording.com, there’s a link in the description below, and you can download those and use them for your portfolio, your resume… Follow along as we produce this, do your own thing, and it’s going to be a good time.
In the previous episode we talked about Arthur, and he laid a quick scratch track for me, and he just kind of drove the acoustic the whole time. In listening to it, I feel like he did a good job just kind of giving me the song and handing it over, so to speak, giving me his baby, but now we’re going to take and I’m going to re-record the acoustic and leave a little bit more room and give some gaps, give some room for interpretation so to speak, as we move into the artist and producer interview coming up in episode 3.
So, we’re going to have my buddy Vic Encarnacion, Neil Devereaux, Arthur is the artist, and then myself working together to produce this song for you, and every step of the way, we’re going to release tutorials, so.
Moving on, I’m going to actually create this playlist again, and I’m going to try to scratch this scratch track on camera. If you guys are interested, I’m using the Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo, and I’m running the acoustic mic through the API channel strip.
A little bit of gain, a little bit of reductive EQ cutting out everything below 100, a little bit more below 100, you guys can see those settings. I wanted a little bit more of the pick to string action at 12kHz, and then I have the Studer because why not? It sounds great. Driven with the acoustic preset. Dialed that in really, really quickly. I wanted to get to this, so here we go. There’s a click track in, and I’m just going to do my best to track a nice, smooth, acoustic, in-tempo.
And I think that chord progression is wrong, so let me come in here, this would be a good example of how I would record myself. Let me create that build…
That chord right there is wrong, so I’m going to Tab to Transient, I’m going to hold Option on Pro Tools, and right before that build, I’m going to click, giving myself a little pre-roll.
Mute that track again, and here we go.
And that’s not going to get me anywhere, so let’s backup and give a little more pre-roll so I can figure out what I’m doing.
Alright, so now that I’ve gone ahead and tracked a scratch track for us, I’m going to take a listen, and kind of walk you through how I might prepare this for exporting both for you guys, and for my production team to give it a listen and review it before our meeting.
So, here is what I did, and I’m just going to kind of hit play, and start pulling up some plug-ins, cleaning it up, doing a couple of things to get it ready.
I’m a big fan of committing as I go, and now keeping in mind, this is just a scratch track. I want it to be easy to listen to, I don’t want anything to pop out or be too distracting.
So I’m going to hit play, and just give it a quick listen! I’m going to get rid of that click track.
Actually, I’m going to unarm it, so low-latency monitoring… Turn that off, and then I’m going to do a little bit of – that was from the previous scratch track, which was let’s hear…
The previous one. I’m just giving it some openness a little bit. Let’s go ahead and actually do some processing.
So, Virtual Mix Rack, not really to mix it, but to just kind of get it in the ballpark of something sounding a little better.
Right there might be a good spot to check the dynamics. Let’s highlight a little section. Okay, so you can see that 1176 is catching some of those peaks, and then we’ll maybe back it off a little bit. Okay, bring a little bite, a little sustain to it.
Nothing crazy, this is just a scratch track, and that might about do it for anything to that guitar.
Okay. Let’s pull the vocal back up. Get rid of that pre-roll.
Okay, it’s kind of an unfair situation here for the final output, so I’m going to come down and throw a couple of plug-ins, just kind of create a quick mix buss. And add some stuff. Maybe even Revival again for the combo of the two.
I like the way it brings the vocal forward. Then I’m going to go to – um, let’s throw a couple of things on real quick that I know sound good that I trust. Let’s go to the LA-2A grey. Let’s turn the peak reduction all the way down, and bring the volume up a bit.
Okay. Top end is getting a little bit tight on me. Let’s come in here with EQ. Okay, sounds a little better. Not quite so bright.
Next up, I’m going to throw maybe just a limiter. Sure, why not. An L1. Okay, pulling that volume up quite a bit. I’m going to drop the main output for the video. A little bit of something in there…
Okay. Really, this stuff is not that important, but I just want to clean it up. I said that a couple of times now.
I’m going to throw it through the Studer. Let’s go the UAD Studer and give it a little character from this, maybe pull open a preset and see… Hi-fi. That sounds cool. Turn off the noise…
Okay, that top end in the acoustic is still kind of bothering me now that we’ve got some compression on there. I just want that out of the way so that the vocal can dominate, and then lastly I’m going to throw on the maximizer here from Ozone. Just bring a little volume up, and turn on a couple of the trusty settings here.
Alright, so I was messing with these plug-ins, and I had them on the master fader just a second ago, and I call it myself because I have this at, what, minus five, minus ten, whatever, but by dropping the signal on a master fader, you’re actually pulling down the signal that goes into the plug-ins.
So what I like to do, is I like to create a stereo aux track, and put all of the two buss processing on the aux track, because no matter what I have this set to, the level’s coming in full, but then on my master fader, using that for the video’s sake when I do tutorials, I have to drop it down to make sure that I don’t clip for whatever reason.
I’m not a video guy, so I don’t really understand it, but I do that and then I adjust it later.
Anyways, a little rabbit trail there, but let’s take another listen for what we have going on with the two buss here. I did a little bit of processing there, a little compression – actually, no compression, this is for the character. Bringing the volume up, and the Studer is for character, the Ozone is for the final output here.
I’m going to move that to the end, because I still feel like the EQ is a little bit bright, so I’m going to come in here just to make sure.
Alright, guys. So, a few rabbit trails in this one kind of organizing the tracks in this one, but maybe you got something from it.
If you are still watching, go to theazseries.com, and you’re going to be able to download these tracks if you haven’t done so already. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any suggestions or questions. David@davidglennrecording.com, and tons more to come.
In the next episode, we’re going to be having the interview with myself, my team, the artists, and we’re going to kind of map this out, get a game plan, and then we’re going to work on improving the foundational track, then sending it off for drums. We’re going to be doing some production, all kinds of great stuff to come.
So thanks again for following, the free A-Z music production series, brought to you by davidglennrecording.com and theproaudiofiles.com.